Back in the day, when an overzealous baseball fan ran out onto the field waving a towel, security staff would let him have his fun for a few seconds, and then tackle him and escort him off the field.
How primitive we were back then! Now, technology affords us an opportunity to watch the guy ride the lightning before an audience of thousands—you know, Roman style plus about 50,000 volts (those Romans were so far ahead of their time).
I feel especially close to this topic because the infamous “Don’t tase me bro!” incident occurred at my alma mater (more than once have I fought off the urge to buy a “Don’t tase me bro!” t-shirt. I’ll succumb eventually). It’s not one of the institution’s finer moments, but it did kick off a furor over the use of tasers to subdue people who probably aren’t dangerous criminals, but are acting very silly.
Police have argued that even if someone, like the baseball fan, is not overtly dangerous, they have no way of knowing if he or she is on a drug that could elicit dangerous behavior in that moment. Of all the drugs that might qualify, the one cops fear the most is meth. The irony, however, is that someone high on meth might very well be at greater risk of having a heart attack when tased. It’s happened before.
Which is why Taser International funded a study to find out what happens when a nervous system riddled with meth gets blasted. The nervous systems they chose belonged to…sheep.
The study was published in the April issue of the journal, Academic Emergency Medicine, and reported on by Popular Science. The findings were that smaller sheep (less than 70.5 lbs) suffered “exacerbated heart symptoms related to meth use.” But “neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition, a highly abnormal heart rhythm that can become fatal.”
As the article points out, not only was the study funded partially by Taser International, but two of the authors are doctors who represent stockholders of the company, and one of them is also its medical director. So much for impartiality in the peer-review process.
Nevertheless, fudging the findings wouldn’t be in Taser’s best interest, since every death linked to taser use leads to a lawsuit against the company and enormous bad press. Research credibility will be scrutinized during the next lawsuit, you can be sure.
The ‘few good sheep’ in this study provide a cushion against these contingencies, and support Taser’s continued development of bigger weapons, like the already available Taser 12-gauge shotgun (1oo foot range), and the forthcoming Taser grenade launcher. I’d hate to be the sheep in that test.
Below is a taser montage someone was kind enough to assemble and post on YouTube, set to the song “It’s Electric” by Metallica.